Space and defense system manufacturer TRW Inc has plans to build a $3.4bn satellite system that it claims will carry more data than the all the world’s undersea cables, with a total capacity of 1.3 terabits of bandwidth. The proposed system includes a number of ground stations, 15 Medium Earth Orbit satellites, and four geostationary satellites. TRW has submitted an application to the Federal Communications Commission, in response to a request for licensees of a new range of satellite frequencies in the 37.5GHz to 50GHz range. The FCC is accepting proposals until September 26, and accepted tenders will then have to negotiate for the exact allocation of frequencies. This could be a long process, taking up to three years, according to TRW. The Cleveland, Ohio-based company has tendered for the license independently, and plans to build the satellites, ground stations and organize launches without the aid of partners. However, if its application is successful TRW will be looking for multimedia and communications companies and large corporates, to use and invest in the system. The system is comparable to the Skybridge proposal by the Alcatel Espace division of Alcatel Alsthom SA with a 64-satellite global telecommunications network due to be in operation by 2001 (CI No 3,129). Both services are offering similar applications, and aim to provide ‘trunking’ services to companies; high bandwidth satellite links that can be used like international fiber optic cables. TRW is part of the Odyssey Telecommunications Ltd satellite cellular telephony joint venture with Teleglobe Inc, which aims to launch 12 satellites into orbit from 2001.
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